Alcatel-Lucent and data services provider Equinix have developed a program aimed at helping Ethernet carriers interconnect their networks.

The Equinix Carrier Ethernet Exchange platform is being billed as an easier way for carriers to connect their Ethernet networks with one another without going through the time-consuming process of setting up complex interconnection agreements. The platform uses Alcatel-Lucent's service router portfolio to let carriers exchange bandwidth and interconnect their networks to more easily share data across different Ethernet systems.

"Carriers have been deploying carrier Ethernet solutions on their own platforms and it is the fastest technology in the networking space," said Jarrett Appleby, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer and Equinix. "The challenge is that carriers haven't been able to provide the interconnection necessary to provide a seamless solution worldwide. All we're doing is simplifying the ability to interconnect."

Appleby says that typically customers that want Ethernet connections go to a service provider that has a limited reach and cannot provide them with the connectivity they need. So for instance, you might be an enterprise that wants an Ethernet connection in both your Boston and London offices, but your service provider may not offer Ethernet connection in those different locations. The Exchange platform allows the carriers to more easily share bandwidth and thus provide customers with seamless service even in areas where they don't have Ethernet coverage.

"Carriers have valuable assets in their local Ethernet service offerings, but they are limited to specific geographic regions," says Daniel Golding, the vice president and research director for Tier1 Research. "The current model for carriers to expand their service offerings is to negotiate one-off Ethernet interconnection agreements with other carriers… There is a strong need for a solution that can automate this process and enable carriers to seamlessly interconnect with multiple Ethernet carriers that have complimentary footprints through a centralised switching fabric."

Equinix has traditionally helped networks interconnect through its Internet Core Exchange that connects services between Tier1 providers. The Carrier Ethernet Exchange is the company's first attempt to provide similar services for carrier Ethernet providers.